OCR Level 1/2 GCSE (9–1) in Biology A (Gateway Science) (J247) Foundation Tier Paper 1/Higher Tier Paper 3

 and OCR Level 1/2 GCSE (9–1) in Combined Science A (Gateway Science) (J250) FT Paper 1/HT Paper 7 Biology

Syllabus-specification CONTENT INDEX (NEW for Y10 starting September 2016, first exams from 2018 onwards)

'Old' OCR Gateway GCSE sciences for Y11 finishing Y11 2016-2017

INDEX for all links

Everything below is based on the NEW 2016 official syllabus-specifications for Y10 2016 onwards

 The Google [SEARCH] box at the bottom of the page should also prove useful


Syllabus-specification CONTENT INDEX Gateway GCSE Combined Science - biology & GCSE biology courses

(HT only) means higher tier only (NOT FT), (GCSE biology only) means NOT for GCSE Combined Science biology

Revision summary GCSE Biology FT Paper 1/HT Paper 3

AND GCSE Combined Science FT Paper 1/HT Paper 7 (this page)


SUMMARY of Topic B1: Cell level systems:

Containing sections: B1.1 Cell structures,   B1.2 What happens in cells (and what do cells need)?

B1.3 Respiration,   B1.4 Photosynthesis

SUMMARY of Topic B2: Scaling up:

Containing sections B2.1 Supplying the cell,   B2.2 The challenges of size

SUMMARY of Topic B3: Organism level systems:

Containing sections B3.1 Coordination and control – the nervous system

B3.2 Coordination and control – the endocrine system,   B3.3 Maintaining internal environments

B7 Practical skills


Revision summary GCSE Biology FT Paper 2/HT Paper 4

AND GCSE Combined Science FT Paper 2/HT Paper 8 (separate page)

This paper assumes a knowledge of topics B1 to B3

SUMMARY of Topic B4: Community level systems:

Containing sections B4.1 Ecosystems

SUMMARY of Topic B5: Genes, inheritance and selection:

Containing sections B5.1 Inheritance, B5.2 Natural selection and evolution

SUMMARY of Topic B6: Global challenges:

Containing sections B6.1 Monitoring and maintaining the environment, B6.2 Feeding the human race, B6.3 Monitoring and maintaining health

B7 Practical skills


TOPICS OCR GCSE Biology A FT Paper 1/HT Paper 3

AND GCSE Combined Science A FT Paper 1/HT Paper 7 (Gateway Science)

(HT only) means higher tier only (NOT FT), (GCSE biology only) means NOT for GCSE Combined Science biology

Topic B1: Cell level systems

B1.1 Cell structures

Know that cells are the fundamental units of living organisms. Cells contain many sub-cellular structures that are essential for the functioning of the cell as a whole. Microscopy is used to examine cells and sub-cellular structures.  You should be familiar with cells as the fundamental unit of living organisms, and with the use of light microscopes to view cells. You should also be familiar with some sub-cellular structures, and the similarities and differences between plant and animal cells. You should appreciate that cells have a 3D structure.

B1.1a Be able to describe how light microscopes and staining can be used to view cells including lenses, stage, lamp, use of slides and cover slips, and the use of stains to view colourless specimens or to highlight different structures/tissues and calculation of the magnification used. You should have investigated of a range of plant and animal cells using light microscope, pictures, light micrographs and diagrams and measure the size and magnification of the cells. You should have prepared cheek cell and onion epidermis cell slides.

B1.1b Be able to explain  how the main sub-cellular structures of eukaryotic cells (plants and animals) and prokaryotic cells are related to their functions including nucleus, genetic material, chromosomes, plasmids, mitochondria (contain enzymes for cellular respiration), chloroplasts (contain chlorophyll) and cell membranes (contain receptor molecules, provides a selective barrier to molecules). You should have made 3D model plant and animal cells to illustrate their differences. You should have investigated of cytoplasmic streaming in Elodea spp.

B1.1c Be able to explain  how electron microscopy has increased our understanding of sub-cellular structures including increased resolution in a transition electron microscope. You should have compared of a range of cells using pictures from light and electron micrographs. You should have compared of the visible structures visible on light and electron micrographs.

 Introduction to plant and animal cell structure and function


B1.2 What happens in cells (and what do cells need)?

Appreciate that life processes depend on biological molecules whose structure is related to their function. Inside every cell is genetic material and this is used as a code to make proteins. Enzymes are important proteins in biology.  You should have a simple understanding of the double helix model of DNA. You should be familiar with the idea of enzymes as biological catalysts. Appreciate that DNA is NOT made of protein or sugar. You must not assume that all enzymes have an optimum temperature of 37°C (human body temperature). You need to be able to carry out rate calculations for chemical reactions.

B1.2a Be able to describe DNA as a polymer  You should have made 3D models of DNA to illustrate its structure.

B1.2b Be able to describe DNA as being made up of two strands forming a double helix

B1.2c-B1.2e below are for GCSE Biology only

B1.2c (GCSE Biology HT only) Be able to describe that DNA is made from four different nucleotides; each nucleotide consisting of a common sugar and phosphate group with one of four different bases attached to the sugar - noting the pairs of complementary bases (A-T and G-C)  You should have made 3D models of DNA to illustrate its structure. You should have investigated of DNA extraction from a living organism (e.g. kiwi, leek, onion, wheat germ).

B1.2d (GCSE Biology HT only) Be able to recall a simple description of protein synthesis the unzipping of the DNA molecule containing the gene, copying to mRNA in nucleus (transcription), (translation) of the nucleotide sequence, in the cytoplasm You should have compared transcription and translation to a non-lending library.

B1.2e (GCSE Biology HT only) You should be able to  Be able to explain simply how the structure of DNA affects the proteins made in protein synthesis triplet code and use of a triplet code to determine amino acid order in a protein

Biology/Combined Science statements

B1.2f/B1.2c Be able to describe experiments that can be used to investigate enzymatic reactions  You should have investigated enzyme activity, including numerical analysis of data and graphical representation of results.

B1.2g/B1.2d Be able to explain  the mechanism of enzyme action including the role of enzymes in metabolism - the role of the active site, enzyme specificity (lock and key hypothesis) and factors affecting the rate of enzyme controlled reactions (pH, temperature, substrate and enzyme concentration) You should have seen the demonstration of the effect of amylase on a baby rice paste.  You should have investigated enzyme controlled reactions.


B1.3 Respiration

Metabolic processes such as respiration are controlled by enzymes. Organic compounds are used as fuels in cellular respiration to allow the other chemical reactions necessary for life.  You should also have some underpinning knowledge of respiration. This should include that respiration involves the breakdown of organic molecules to enable all the other chemical processes necessary for life. You should be able to recall the word equation for respiration. Common misconceptions - ventilation is respiration and don't get confused between the terms breakup and breakdown.

B1.3a Be able to describe cellular respiration as a universal chemical process, continuously occurring that supplies ATP in all living cells

B1.3b Be able to describe cellular respiration as an exothermic reaction  Demonstration of an exothermic reaction (e.g. heat pack).

B1.3c Be able to compare the processes of aerobic and anaerobic respiration - in plants/fungi and animals the different conditions, substrates, products and relative yields of ATP  Research into whether plants respire. You should have investigated of fermentation in fungi.  You should have investigated of respiration in yeast using alginate beads to immobilise the fungus.

B1.3d Be able to explain  the importance of sugars in the synthesis and breakdown of carbohydrates to include use of the terms monomer and polymer Demonstration of the synthesis and breakdown of biological molecules (e.g. using Lego bricks).

B1.3e Be able to explain  the importance of amino acids in the synthesis and breakdown of proteins to include use of the terms monomer and polymer

B1.3f Be able to explain the importance of fatty acids and glycerol in the synthesis and breakdown of lipids

B1.4 Photosynthesis

Know that Life processes depend on photosynthesis. Green plants and algae trap light from the Sun to fix carbon dioxide with hydrogen from water making organic compounds.  You should also have some underpinning knowledge of photosynthesis. You should have an understanding that plants make carbohydrates in their leaves by photosynthesis, and be able to recall the word equation for photosynthesis. Appreciate that plants do respire too!. Be able to understand and use inverse proportion – the inverse square law and light intensity in the context of factors affecting photosynthesis

B1.4a Be able to describe photosynthetic organisms as the main producers of food and therefore biomass for life on Earth

B1.4b Be able to describe the process of photosynthesis - reactants and products, location of the reaction (in the chloroplasts. Investigation of photosynthesis e.g. the Priestley experiment using Cabomba experiment to collect oxygen or the Ingenhousz experiment to show mass gain.

B1.4c Be able to describe photosynthesis as an endothermic reaction  Demonstrate of an endothermic reaction (e.g. icepack).

B1.4d Be able to describe experiments to investigate photosynthesis.  Experiments to show the consequences of light exclusion on photosynthesising plants (e.g. testing geraniums for starch).

B1.4e  Be able to explain  the effect of temperature, light intensity and carbon dioxide concentration on the rate of photosynthesis  You should have investigated of photosynthesis in algae using alginate beads to immobilize the algae.

B1.4f (HT only) Be able to explain  the interaction of these factors in limiting the rate of photosynthesis

 Photosynthesis, importance explained, limiting factors affecting rate


Topic B2: Scaling up

B2.1 Supplying the cell

Know that cells transport many substances across their membranes by diffusion, osmosis and active transport. Stem cells are found in both plants and animals. These stem cells can divide, differentiate and become specialised to form tissues, organs and organ systems.  You should be familiar with the role of diffusion in the movement of materials in and between cells. Common misconceptions You may show some confusion regarding surface area:volume ratio, particularly how larger animals have a smaller surface area:volume ratio. There is some confusion as to stem cells: where they are found and their roles. Take care to give clear definitions - a general rule!

B2.1a Be able to explain  how substances are transported into and out of cells through diffusion, osmosis and active transport including examples of substances moved, direction of movement, concentration gradients and use of the term water potential (no mathematical use of water potential required)  Observation of osmosis in plant cells using a light microscope. Demonstration of ‘creaming yeast’ to show osmosis.  Investigating of changes in mass of vegetable chips when placed in sucrose/salt concentrations of varying concentrations.

B2.1b Be able to describe the process of mitosis in growth, including the cell cycle including the stages of the cell cycle as DNA replication, movement of chromosomes, followed by the growth of the cell Modelling of mitosis using everyday objects e.g. shoes, socks etc. Observation of mitosis in stained root tip cells.

B2.1c Be able to explain  the importance of cell differentiation including the production of specialised cells allowing organisms to become more efficient and examples of specialised cells Examination of a range of specialised cells using a light microscope.

B2.1d Be able to recall that stem cells are present in embryonic and adult animals and meristems in plants Demonstration of cloning using cauliflower.

B2.1e Be able to describe the functions of stem cells including the division to produce a range of different cell types for development, growth and repair

B2.1f Be able to describe the difference between embryonic and adult stem cells in animals. Research into the different types of stem cells.


B2.2 The challenges of size

Know that when organisms become multicellular, the need arises for highly adapted structures including gaseous exchange surfaces and transport systems, enabling living processes to be performed effectively.  You should be familiar with the role of diffusion in the movement of materials in and between cells. They should also be familiar with the human gaseous exchange system. Common misconceptions You have a view that the slow flow of blood in capillaries is due to the narrow diameter, when in fact it is a function of the total cross-sectional area of the capillaries (1000 times greater than the aorta). When  Be able to explaining the importance of the slow flow of blood in allowing time for exchange by diffusion, this misunderstanding should be considered.

B2.2a  Be able to explain  the need for exchange surfaces and a transport system in multicellular organisms in terms of surface area:volume ratio to include surface area, volume and diffusion distances Investigating surface area:volume ratio using hydrochloric acid and gelatine cubes stained with phenolphthalein or other suitable pH indicator.

B2.2b Be able to describe some of the substances transported into and out of a range of organisms in terms of the requirements of those organisms - oxygen, carbon dioxide, water, dissolved food molecules, mineral ions and urea

B2.2c Be able to describe the human circulatory system to include the relationship with the gaseous exchange system, the need for a double circulatory system in mammals and the arrangement of vessels Modelling of the human circulatory system.

B2.2d  Be able to explain  how the structure of the heart and the blood vessels are adapted to their functions including the structure of the mammalian heart with reference to valves, chambers, cardiac muscle and the structure of blood vessels with reference to thickness of walls, diameter of lumen, presence of valves  Investigating heart structure by dissection. You should have investigated a blood smear using a light microscope. Modelling of blood using sweets to represent the components.

B2.2e  Be able to explain  how red blood cells and plasma are adapted to their transport functions in the blood.  Examine the gross structure of blood vessels using a light microscope.  Investigating of the elasticity of different blood vessels using hanging masses.

B2.2f  Be able to explain  how water and mineral ions are taken up by plants, relating the structure of the root hair cells to their function  Examination of root hair cells using a light microscope.  Demonstration of the effectiveness of transpiration by trying to suck water from a bottle using a 10m straw.  You should have investigated of the position of the xylem/phloem in root, stem and leaf tissues using a light microscope. Interpretation of experimental evidence of the movement of dissolved food materials in a plant.

B2.2g Be able to describe the processes of transpiration and translocation including the structure and function of the stomata  Measurement of plant stomatal density by taking an impression of the leaf using clear nail varnish or spray on plaster.

B2.2h  Be able to explain  how the structure of the xylem and phloem are adapted to their functions in the plant

B2.2i  Be able to explain  the effect of a variety of environmental factors on the rate of water uptake by a plant - light intensity, air movement, and temperature  Interpreting experimental evidence of investigations into environmental factors that affect water uptake.

B2.2j Be able to describe how a simple potometer can be used to investigate factors that affect the rate of water uptake.  You should have investigated of transpiration rates from a plant cutting. Work out the rate of transpiration in volume of water/time.


Topic B3: Organism level systems

B3.1 Coordination and control – the nervous system

Know that the human nervous system is an important part of how the body communicates with itself and also receives information from its surroundings.  You should have a concept of the hierarchical organism of multicellular organisms from cells to tissues to organs to systems to organisms. Common misconceptions You commonly think that their eyes see objects ‘directly’, like a camera, but the reality is that the image formed by the brain is based on the eyes and brains interpretation of the light that comes into the eye i.e. different people will perceive the same object or image differently. You may have the misconception that some sort of “force” comes out of the eye, enabling it to see.

B3.1a Be able to describe the structure of the nervous system CNS including sensory and motor neurones and sensory receptors You should have made 3D models of neurones to illustrate their structure.

B3.1b  Be able to explain  how the components of the nervous system can produce a coordinated response - it goes to all parts of the body, has many links, has different sensory receptors and is able to coordinate responses. Demonstration (by video) of someone trying to do everyday tasks whilst being given mild electric shocks (Brainiac).

B3.1c  Be able to explain  how the structure of a reflex arc is related to its function.  Demonstration of reaction time by getting a learner to catch a falling £5 note. Research into reflexes. (Investigating of reaction times by ruler drop).

B3.1d - B3,1h statements are for GCSE Biology only (NOT combined science)

B3.1d  Be able to explain  how the main structures of the eye are related to their functions including cornea, iris, pupil, lens, retina, optic nerve, ciliary body, suspensory ligaments Demonstration of the inversion of an image through a beaker full of water. Demonstration of the features of the human eye. You should have investigated of eye structure by dissection.

B3.1e Be able to describe common defects of the eye and  Be able to explain  how some of these problems may be overcome including colour blindness, short-sightedness and long-sightedness.  Measurement of focal length in a variety of situations. Research into eye defects, their diagnosis and treatment.

B3.1f Be able to describe the structure and function of the brain cerebrum, cerebellum, medulla, hypothalamus, pituitary

B3.1g (HT only)  Be able to explain  some of the difficulties of investigating brain function to include the difficulty in obtaining and interpreting case studies and the consideration of ethical issues Discussion of problems associated with brain research including the difficulty in getting research subjects.

B3.1h (HT only)  Be able to explain  some of the limitations in treating damage and disease in the brain and other parts of the nervous system to include limited ability to repair nervous tissue, irreversible damage to the surrounding tissues, difficulties with accessing parts of the nervous system Research into a study of brain injury.


B3.2 Coordination and control – the endocrine system

Know that hormones are chemical messengers. In animals, hormones are transported around the body in the blood and affect target tissues and organs. Hormones have a variety of roles in the human body, including controlling reproduction. Plant hormones are chemicals that regulate plant growth and development. They can be used in agriculture to control the rate of growth.  You should be aware of a number of hormones including adrenaline and the male and female sex hormones. Common misconceptions In the menstrual cycle, you may have problems relating the time of conception to the condition of the lining of the uterus.

B3.2a Be able to describe the principles of hormonal coordination and control by the human endocrine system including use of chemical messengers, transport in blood, endocrine glands and receptors

B3.2b (HT only)  Be able to explain  the roles of thyroxine and adrenaline in the body - thyroxine as an example of negative feedback system

B3.2c Be able to describe the role of hormones in human reproduction including the control of the menstrual cycle including oestrogen, progesterone, FSH and testosterone.

B3.2d (HT only)  Be able to explain  the interactions of FSH, LH, oestrogen and progesterone in the control of the menstrual cycle  Analysis of relative hormones levels from raw data and graphically.

B3.2e Be able to explain  the use of hormones in contraception and evaluate hormonal and non-hormonal methods of contraception including relative effectiveness of the different forms of contraception. Discussion into the various methods of contraception and their effective/ethical use.

B3.2f (HT only) Be able to explain the use of hormones in modern reproductive technologies to treat infertility. Research into Xenopus laevis pregnancy testing to detect hCG by the stimulation of oogenesis. Research into hormonal treatments for infertility

B3.2g to B3.2i GCSE Biology only (NOT combined science)

B3.2g  Be able to explain how plant hormones are important in the control and coordination of plant growth and development, with reference to the role of auxins in phototropisms and gravitropisms - unequal distribution of auxin  You should have investigated of the effects of phototropism using seedlings. 

B3.2h Be able to describe some of the variety of effects of plant hormones, relating to auxins, and (HT only) gibberellins and ethene controlling growth, controlling germination, fruit ripening, flower opening and shedding of leaves  You should have investigated/research into the question “does one bad banana spoil the fruit bowl?”

B3.2i (HT only) Be able to describe some of the different ways in which people use plant hormones to control plant growth - selective herbicides, root cuttings, seedless fruit (parthenocarpic fruit development), altering dormancy


B3.3 Maintaining internal environments

Know that homeostasis is crucial to the regulation of internal environments and enables organisms to adapt to change, both internally and externally. Internal temperature, blood sugar levels and osmotic balance are regulated by a number of organs and systems working together.  You will build on the knowledge and understanding gained in section 3.1 about coordination and control when considering the topics in this section. Don't confuse type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and the effective treatments for each. The effect of ADH on the permeability of the kidney tubules is often confused.

B3.3a  Be able to explain  the importance of maintaining a constant internal environment in response to internal and external change - allowing metabolic reactions to proceed at appropriate rates  Research into hypothermia.

B3.3c/B3.3b  Be able to explain how insulin controls blood sugar levels in the body

B3.3d/B3.3c (HT only) Be able to explain how glucagon interacts with insulin to control blood sugar levels in the body  You should have investigated into the glucose content of fake urine to diagnose diabetes, using e.g. Clinistix.

B3.3e/B3.3d compare type 1 and type 2 diabetes and  Be able to explain how they can be treated

GCSE Biology only (NOT combined science)

B3.3b Be able to describe the function of the skin in the control of body temperature detection of external temperature, sweating, shivering, change to blood flow  Demonstration of the cooling effect of sweating using alcohol based surgical wipes. You should have investigated into heat loss by using microwaved plasticine shapes/model ‘animals’ by using a UV heat camera/thermometers.

B3.3f  Be able to explain  the effect on cells of osmotic changes in body fluids higher, lower or equal water potentials leading to lysis or shrinking (no mathematical use of water potentials required)  Demonstration of the different water potentials on different cells.

B3.3g Be able to describe the function of the kidneys in maintaining the water balance of the body varying the amount and concentration of urine and hence water excreted You should have investigated of the structure of the structure of a kidney by dissection and the application of H2O2 to visualise the nephrons.  You should have investigated into the glucose content of fake urine to diagnose diabetes, using e.g. Clinistix.

B3.3h Be able to describe the gross structure of the kidney and the structure of the kidney tubule

B3.3i (HT only) Be able to describe the effect of ADH on the permeability of the kidney tubules amount of water reabsorbed and negative feedback  You should have investigated of the different sections of a nephron and the composition of the filtrate from each area.

B3.3j (HT only)  Be able to explain  the response of the body to different temperature and osmotic challenges to include high sweating and dehydration, excess water intake, high salt intake responses to include mechanism of kidney function, thirst Research into sports’ drinks and evaluation into which is best for athletes.


B7 Practical skills


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